COMMUNITY VOICES | Open Saint Paul: Where are bicycle facilities needed? Are there examples of good bikeway designs from Saint Paul or other cities that you would like to see repeated in Saint Paul?


The City of Saint Paul Comprehensive Plan establishes a goal to increase the number of people using bicycles to travel around the city. To help accomplish this goal, the City is developing a Bicycle Master Plan to guide the development of a safe, effective, and well-connected network of bicycle facilities, programs, and policies to encourage and facilitate bicycle transportation and recreation.

Open Saint Paul is an online forum for civic engagement. Read what others are saying about important Saint Paul topics, then post your own statement. City staff and officials will read the statements and incorporate them into their decision-making process. Click here for more information on Open Saint Paul.

Bikeways must appeal to a diverse group of cyclists, including commuters, fitness cyclists, people using bicycles for running errands, and people riding for recreation. In addition, bikeways must provide safe and attractive accomodations for cyclists with varying experience levels. As such, the Citywide Bicycle Master Plan must plan for a wide range of cyclists as well as a wide range of bikeway facility types, including bike lanes, bicycle boulevards, trails, and other innovative types of bikeways.

Learn more about the Citywide Bicycle Master Plan at the project website and provide input by leaving a response to the question here.

From Kathleen Abel inside Ward 1:

I believe we should concentrate our limited resources on improving present facilities before we think about expansion. Two examples that come easily to mind are the potholes in the eastbound bike lane on Minehaha near Snelling and the fence on each end of the pedestrian overpass at Grotto and I-94 that is dangerous owing to its state of disrepair.

I’m sure other bicyclists could cite more examples. Thanks for reading my input.

From Sam Wils inside Ward 3:

The recently modernized section of Minnehaha Avenue just north of Lake Street in Minneapolis is an excellent example of handling high traffic volume areas using bike lanes and dedicated turn lanes. When this area had four lanes without right-turn lanes, driving this street was rather chaotic and biking on the street felt dangerous. Despite the high volume of vehicles turning into Rainbow, Cub, Target, and other businesses, now both bike and vehicle traffic flow well due to dedicated bike and right-turn lanes. Using this approach on roads that currently have four through lanes such as Ford Parkway in the Highland Village area would smooth traffic flow and improve safety.

Finally, adding advisory bike lanes to streets with high volumes of bike and vehicular traffic would reduce car/bike conflict by clearly delineating expected behavior for bicycles. A possible model for this is Hennepin Ave in downtown Minneapolis. Advisory bike lanes, whether green with sharrows or with dashed lines, should be the norm on all busy streets without space for dedicated bike lanes.

From Amber Dallman inside Ward 3:

Specific bicycle facility improvements are needed in downtown and with north/south connections – particularly over I-94 and the railroad tracks.

As for types of improvements: the bicycle boulevard was an attempt at increasing east/west connections. However, most bicyclists don’t seem to know that sharrows are indicative of where they should be riding. Advisory bike lanes may assist with better predictability and visibility of people on bikes because they support better lane placement and encourage people in motor vehicles to pass when it is safe to do so and share the lane with people on bikes.

Protected bicycle facilities could really do a lot to encourage more people bike – particularly women and children. These could work well in downtown where it most bicyclists don’t travel as quickly or even getting into downtown. For example, Marshall Avenue from John Ireland Blvd to Western is a one-way that could possibly handle a protected bicycle facility.

Easier crossing options and minimal connections with appropriate signage would useful. For example, many bicyclists take St. Anthony as an east/west connection north of Marshal, but south of University. The crossing at Cretin could be improved to encourage safer interactions between bicyclists and motor vehicles. It could also be helpful to have a short protected facility there to better connect bicyclists to St. Anthony on the west side of Cretin.

From Max H inside Ward 2:

I will write about what I am familiar with because I am sure there are huge gaps in the network that in areas that I seldom go.

I think the key is the idea of road diets, a transition from two lanes in each direction to one in each direction and a turn lane. With a road diet traffic is slower and there is more room for a shoulder, bike lane or on-street parking. Places where this would be highly useful would be Dale Street N of Front/Como and Dale South of Selby, Larpenteur, Cretin Avenue in Mac/Grove and Highland, Most of University Avenue, Concordia and St. Anthony in the areas away from the on-ramps, and the Lake Street Bridge.

Other things- signage to direct cyclists away from Snelling and Lexington and onto bike boulevards like Griggs, Aldine, or Chatsworth. A bike lane on Westbound Marshall between Cretin and River Road. Turn 6th Street downtown into an area like Nicollet Mall where cyclists have at least one car-free street. Clear and separated routes into, out of, and through downtown from Shepard Road, Marshall/Summit Avenue, Como Ave, and the Bruce Vento.

From Eric Saathoff inside Ward 6:

Make a separated bike path all along Johnson Parkway, as a north-south pathway connecting the East side to Lake Phalen.

Create a bike/walk path on the west side of Mounds Blvd (the Mounds Promenade).

This could connect with a bike lane/path all along 3rd street, which would intersect with Johnson Parkway and meet up with McKnight Road.

Immediately work to connect Phalen Blvd with Pennsylvania and Pierce Butler. Make the entire stretch as safe as Phalen Blvd is now with a separated bike/walk path – what a dream!

Mark Wheelock Parkway with actual bike lanes or a separated bike path.

Make Maryland Ave and Arlington Ave a safe place to cross 35E. The bridge work on Maryland has already made it safer, but getting to the sidewalks is difficult. These should be integrated with either Maryland bike paths or a parallel bike path (Rose, for example) that can lead to the Maryland bridge. I know Wheelock takes you east and west, but it is very indirect.

From Ben B inside Ward 2:

Bicycle facilities needed downtown (similar to the car ramps), and lots in each neighborhood/community with a hub and spoke layout (Como, Rhondo, Highland, SStP, WStP, Battle Creek, Phalen, Frogtown…. or a similar circle pattern).

Hub Downtown – make the abandoned jailhouse on the cliff facing the river a ‘bike garage’. It’s better than leaving it empty, right? 3-5 years from now that might change, but those small cells are great for bikes – maybe 2/3 cycles per cell? Nobody likes leaving their Schwin on the sidewalk – chained to some post with a $10 lock everyone knows a bolt cutter can snap like butter. Even the cops don’t like it because reporting a bike theft takes them away from ‘real’ police work. Maybe even build a walk/bike bridge from the Upper Landing over Sheppard and the railroad to the jailhouse. I’m sure volunteer groups would help donate and do some of the work (P.S. a tax exempt beverage or appetizer from a community partnership with a local restaurant is always a plus). I didn’t say Beer’s for Bikes, but that has a really nice ring to it (as long as nobody does them at the same time).

Universal Signage – no cyclist likes to ride wondering if they have to jump into an alley or onto a busy road by surprise (cars usually win when that happens). Create a BRIGHT universal sign to let cyclists know of changes coming to their paths – like we do motorists for detours. Lime green with white symbols is probably the best – fits the eco ‘green’ theme, gets your attention, and no standards use it consistently at the moment.

In getting back to specifics, there are a few good local examples of ‘good bikeway designs’ (Como being one, along Sheppard west of downtown another). However, I’d suggest the below article on the top 10 cycling cities in the world to brainstorm specific ideas of how we can apply sensible lessons here. I like the idea of closing off certain downtown streets on days like Sunday for cyclists they way Bogota does. Other than the Farmers Market and the occasional X event, Sundays are still a bust downtown.

Note: Ignore Beijing (their chaos won’t fly here), but look to Portland (get bikes away from cars). Also, I like Trondheim’s ‘Bike Lift’… it would be nice for getting up to Grand from West 7th, or up the bluffs on either side of the river. We’re probably not ready for that yet, but it’s nice to dream.

From Kelli McCully inside Ward 4:

Midway area needs major bike help. I like to bike to the stores in that area or north, but it is treacherous once I cross to the north side of 94 and then the number of racks at the establishments are very limited. Even the lack of trees contributes to the unsafe feeling as in summer it’s like biking across a desert. The layout of some of the parking lot accesses makes a person feel as though they are taking their lives into their own hands. Ultimately, I mostly end up stopping in the Rosedale area for most of those needs on the way home from work. 🙁

From Betsy Leach inside Ward 7:

Connect the eastern end of Pierce Butler to Phalen Blvd, as earlier plans have proposed – the Pennsylvania connection that reroutes auto traffic. Build out the Margaret St. bike route on the current CIB proposals. Make connections of Furness bikeway to Ruth Street. Lanes on Upper Afton and Burns. Look at Third Street for a route.

Look at the plan that Emily E. was working on in Public Works. A lot of community input went into that from the eastside…

There are 14 comments on this question as of May 9, 2013. Read the rest here.